With new polymer-frame pistols seemingly introduced on the hour every hour, it takes something extra to stand out from the crowd. STI's latest pistol, the GP6, accomplishes that goal and more through its exceptional combination of traditional and unorthodox characteristics.
Based on a pistol produced by Grand Power in the Slovak Republic and dubbed the K100, the 9 mm Luger GP6 is imported into the United States by STI Int'l, Inc., a name renowned in competitive shooting circles. In fact, for many the STI name is inextricably linked to its highly successful line of competition-ready M1911 pistols, making the company's introduction of a polymer-frame Eastern European pistol all the more surprising.
"Why did we look at the K100? Because of the sheer number of people winning European matches with it," says STI's Michael Boyett. Although STI had a full line of competitive pistols for almost every discipline imaginable, prior to the GP6 it had nothing appropriate for the "Production" division. As a result, the company worked out a deal with Grand Power to import the pistol.
The GP6, whose moniker signifies that the currently offered variant is the sixth version of the Grand Power pistol design, locks into battery by way of a rotating barrel rather than a Browning-style tilting barrel system.
The 4 1/4-inch carbon-nitrided steel barrel features a helical groove cut below the square block area of its hood section. This helical recess interfaces with a steel crosspin mounted inside the frame of the pistol. As the pistol is fired, the barrel and slide remain locked for a short distance until the crosspin rotates the barrel and brings the square block portion out of engagement with the slide.
As a counterpoint to the radical nature of the GP6's locking system, however, the pistol's system of trigger operation is downright traditional when compared to many of its contemporaries. Rather than a more commonly seen striker-fired design, the GP6 instead employs a traditional double-action trigger with an external hammer. A long, relatively heavy trigger pull on the first shot both raises and releases the hammer, with subsequent shots being single-action.
The safety system of the GP6 is a combination of an external manual safety and an internal passive firing pin block. The latter is a spring-loaded, plunger-type block that is disengaged when the trigger is pulled to the rear. Working against the sear, full rearward trigger movement pushes this plunger up to clear the firing pin's forward movement.
Reminiscent of the M1911, the GP6's manual safety is located at the rear of the frame and requires a downward sweep to disengage. It does not have a decocking function. Also like the M1911, the GP6's safety can be engaged when the hammer is cocked, providing users the option of carrying the pistol cocked-and-locked. The safety can also be engaged when the hammer is at rest.
Every control of the GP6 is ambidextrous, from the plastic safety lever to the steel magazine release button to the steel slide release lever.
The black polymer frame of the GP6 is manufactured from Polamide GF 20 and houses a substantial, 4 1/2-inch-long steel chassis that contains the slide rails, crosspin, trigger group and a feed ramp for the barrel. The frame has a generally smooth surface, with raised panels on the sides and rear of the grip area that sport textures reminiscent of stippling. Horizontal grooves adorn both the frontstrap and the forward face of the squared-off trigger guard.
To help ensure the pistol sits as low in the hand as possible, the rear portion of the trigger guard at the top of the frontstrap is generously relieved. The frame also features an extended beavertail to help prevent hammer bite. Located on the dustcover area is a Picatinny accessory rail....